Well, we have just completed my 1st week of the Yellowstone REU and my 7th week of geology for the summer! 3 More to go, hardly any time at all.
Let's see...highlights from the first week.
ROCKS: The rocks are really cool. We are hiking around Yellowstone's northern border near Gardiner, MT. We are in MT some of the time and WY some of the time. We are mostly looking at over 2 billion year old rocks. OLD STUFF. I'm learning how to look at metamorphic rocks, see new minerals, see foliations and lineations, intrusive contacts and so forth. I'm beginning to be able to differentiate between different granites! I am looking closely at metamorphosed sedimentary rocks in order to try to determine their depositional environment some 2.5 billion years ago. They have been interpreted as turbidites previously and it seems like that is pretty likely because you can still make out sand and mud layering and graded bedding (the grain size changes within the layers). Since these rocks are pretty dang deformed the clues to the past are inconsistent throughout outcrops, it's just piecing observations together rather than on tell-all outcrop. It will be interesting to see how it develops over the next three weeks.
ANIMALS: We've seen 4 bears! 2 grizzlies crossing the road (one a tiny cub) and two black bears off the side of the road. We've walked head on into bison on the trials we hike a couple of times, and seen some herds. We've seen snakes, osprey, elk and ground squirrels.
HIKES: The first couple of days were small hikes, only a few miles, but with a lot of vertical elevation gain. Everyone is in pretty good shape but we were beaten up after those. By the end of the week we hiked 14.5 miles in one day, and upwards of 8 or so the others. It's been awesome.
WEATHER: The beginning of the week was very stormy. Every night were giant thunderstorms and rain and hail. One morning we hiked right into a big rain/hail storm and waited it out for the 15 minutes that it lasted and had beautiful weather for the rest of the time. Overall we've been lucky, mostly sunny. It can get pretty chilly even at this time of year.
PEOPLE: It's funny because in field camp I was one of the most fit people. This group is full of fit people that I'm most certainly average. This group also has a lot more strong personalities, but everyone is really cool and nice. Definitely no problem makers. I think it makes a difference that we are all from different schools, whereas the Kansas people all knew each other more or less.
WEEKEND: We spend Saturday nights at Bozeman and stay in the MSU dorms. Last night we went out with about half the group to Mexican dinner, a treat for sure. Taco salad + Corona. Then we bar hopped for a while until the groups re-split and some of us went to a dance club and got to country dance on an empty dance floor. I wish you all could have seen me, I was flipped, dipped, spun, twirled, lifted. It was a lot of fun and really low-key. This morning we all met up to work on preparing our samples. We take the rocks we collect in the field, trim them down with saws and then polish them and label. We did some 20 samples in a couple of hours, and we are supposed to have 200 by the end of the REU. :0 That will be a LOT of sample prep for Sundays. Then I went for a 40 minute run around Bozeman (really great trails), and around 4-5pm we will head to prof. Dave's house for a bbq and fireworks later.
CLOSING REMARKS: Overall, I am having a really good time. I'm definitely getting warn out by all the group living and hard work, but I love constantly learning and discussing geology plans with people. I've discovered that I have a good eye for rocks in the field. I am looking forward to relaxing in August.